The level of sophistication in a $250 shop is significantly less than a $2,500 shop.  But keep in mind even a $2,500 budget is entry level.  Acquiring a shop full of the perfect tools for each and every job takes a life time.  But that doesn't mean that producing quality work takes a lifetime.  One of the most enjoyable aspects of this hobby is the constant need to solve problems in order to produce good work.

Let's talk about a few strategies for building out your shop below retail price.  There are the obvious ones like yard sales, craigslist, estate sales, and thrift stores, however, these can be hit or miss.  First of all, not everyone lives in an area where these avenues exist.  Second, when your brand new to woodworking, it can be hard to evaluate a tool that your buying second hand.  Because of this, I'm not going to focus on these channels in this post, but I will say, if your willing to do some hunting for second hand tools, you can easily save 50% to 75% on some perfectly fine equipment.


Many home improvement projects and custom woodworking pieces alike call for a painted finish. Depending on the application process, paint can create either a rustic or refined finish, and it looks great when both paint and stain (or oil) are combined together in a piece (we love the look of a painted table base with a stained or oil-rubbed table top. See our portfolio for some great examples of this style). Paints are great for both exterior and interior protection and are available in an almost infinite number of color tones. Finishes include flat, eggshell, semi-gloss, and high-gloss depending on the amount of sheen you desire. 

Frank’s work is visually arresting. This is not necessarily a channel you’re going to learn from, if you’re a novice woodworker or just getting into the field. The main reason to subscribe to Frank’s channel is how gorgeous his work is. The pieces he makes are always artfully conceived, even if it’s just a simple bookcase or a bench. Add to that his killer stop-motion and filmmaking skills, and you get a YouTube channel you can share with anyone, even if they think they’re not remotely interested in the craft. 

The all-new JWBS-14DXPRO 14 in. Deluxe Band saw The all-new JWBS-14DXPRO 14 in. Deluxe Band saw from JET has been fully redesigned to meet the needs of today's most demanding woodworkers. Gone are the days of adding a riser block; this 14 in. band saw comes with a massive cast iron frame for increased power that makes it ...  More + Product Details Close
Right now you're thinking, "but the plans say to use a table saw for this." That's OK , because the great thing about a circular saw is you can turn it into a table saw. There are plenty of videos online showing how to do this, but you are essentially cutting a slot in a piece of plywood, mounting the circular saw to it, and flipping it over. With careful planning you can have a good basic table saw without spending hundreds of dollars, and it can come apart if you need to save space. With that setup you can cut long pieces of wood that you may not be able to brace properly to cut with the circular saw. You can also make more accurate cuts than by holding the circular saw. It can also be used to cut simple dados and to cut a bevel. You do need to be careful, as it won't have the blade guard covering the saw blade anymore.

The problems  that we least expect.  Five years ago i purchased a bicycle and discovered while riding that I had developed balance problems.  I ignored the problem and stopped riding the bicycle.During this period I built a workshop in my basement and stocked with the best handtools.  My lifelong dream was to be an anarchist!  In February 2012 I started having episodes of more severe balance problems which resulted in hospitalization and extended nursing home rehabilitationl for six months. The diagnoses is Parkinson Disease which causes muscles to react to unwanted brain signals.  Needless to say the therapist ordered "no woodworking" period" because of the hazards associated with machines and sharp tools.  I presented my case that I did only handwork with hand tools.  The therapist answer was "NO!".  Now I'm confined to using a walker or wheel chair and reading how you all are enjoying the smell of sawdust.
If you'd like to learn more about the differences between hardwood species, I can think of no better resource than R. Bruce Hoadley's 1980 masterpiece, Understanding Wood: A Craftsman's Guide to Wood Technology. Not only does Hoadley detail nearly every species used for woodworking, he does an exceptional job at describing how to prepare, work with and finish these hardwoods. This is an industry-standard resource, one that I'd highly recommend to every woodworker.
Birch comes in two varieties: yellow and white. Yellow birch is a pale yellow-to-white wood with reddish-brown heartwood, whereas white birch has a whiter color that resembles maple. Birch is readily available and less expensive than many other hardwoods. Birch is stable and easy to work with. However, it’s hard to stain because it can get blotchy, so it is generally preferred to paint Birch.

The solution to potentially wedged boards on a jointer is to add a planer to the mix.  A planer has a flat surface with a cutting edge that is exactly 180 degrees to the surface.  This allows you to position the jointed edge flat on the planers surface and make a cut to the opposite side of the board that is perfectly square.  As an added bonus, the planer allows you incredible control over the thickness of the boards you're planing.  ​


Matthias Wandel loves himself some precision engineering.  His craftsmanship is great, but he's more a Da Vince for his contraptions.  He tends to build his own tools, and he's very much a function over form guy.  There's geekery aplenty with maths, physics and all sorts of CAD wackiness - feast your eyes on the marble machines!  All seemingly done on a shoestring budget.  Genius is the word for Matthias.

To get the most out of your router, you are going to want a router table.  You may find yourself asking if you really need one - if you do, check this post out.​  It's one of those purchases that you won't truly understand how valuable it is until you have one.  Given the budget of $2,500, I'd suggest looking at the Bosch RA1171 ($150).  If you want to see our favorite tables along with write-ups, check them out here.
Even if you don’t live in a rustic log cabin, you can give your home a great cabin look by simply planking one or more walls. This is a relatively easy project that will add beauty and value to any home. Just choose the wall that you want to change, and add wooden planks which you can pick up at most home improvement stores for very little. Then stain if you want and you have a lovely cabin type wall
Not only is having a full time job is hard to do woodworking, if you have a family as well, then that is another thing that you are going to have to juggle as well.  For me its a no brainer.  I always choose my family over my hobby of woodworking.  But when my family or job does not need my presence, that’s when I am free to let my brain just run loose on new ideas of what to build next.
*any* glass made by the float glass process will have the same level of flatness (>95% of today’s colorless glass). However, thicker is better and I would see 5mm as the absolute minimum. When glass slabs get bigger/heavier their shards pose a real risk in case they crack. Therefore, 5 or 8mm tempered glass is what you should be looking for. If you can’t find tempered glass, cover the back with UV-stabilized (all weather) tape: this will hold the shards together and you don’t get any exposed edges.
Screwdrivers are another must-have in the woodworker’s set of hand tools. Not only will you need Phillips and slot, or flathead screwdrivers, you’ll need star drivers and Torx drivers, too. A quality construction is vital to a good set of screwdrivers. So many of them are made out of soft metal, and the first time you put any “oomph” behind them, they strip out, becoming absolutely useless.
The circular saw is pretty much the first tool I grab for any project. You can use it for both rough cutting your lumber to get started on a project or making finish cuts before final assembly of your project. You can use it to make half lap joints and a variety of other joinery methods. While a table saw or stationary miter saw might make a certain task easier, it is hard to beat the cost, portability, and versatility of a circular saw. While most of these come with a blade, here is a good all-around blade that I use.
I've been through many tools in that time and I rarely buy new. So many begin this hobby with a zillion tools but never use them. They wait about two years and sell. The best thing is the price but I also like the fact when she looks for my list items she finds so many other things that were future list items. I won't bore with good deal stories but I have many.

You can create a beautiful coffee table by simple stacking logs together. Line the logs end up and create a circle whatever size you need. Then just tie them all together with rope or twine to keep your coffee table secure. You do need to make sure that the logs are the same height and you may want to sand the tops down just a bit to make them smooth.
Just how small?  Will you have an extra bedroom for your shop or will you be doing woodworking in your living room?  Do you have to put the projects and tools away every time you want to entertain or will you leave everything set up all the time?  A while back FWW had a video tour of a shop in Japan that was smaller than small.  I'll try to find it and get back.  Found it...  shows what can be done in a small space but this shop was not on a small budget so no help there.
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